So I am sitting on my sofa watching an an episode of Rebus and writing the opening few paragraphs of this post in a notebook and on my phone. This is a TY series which has two major advantages over other cop dramas. Firstly the opening theme music, and secondly the fact that Ken Stott in the actor who plays Detective Inspector Rebus in the version I watch. He is an actor made to play foul tempered detectives.
If it is late at night and you are able to then watch some Rebus. It is damn good TV.
Now the interesting thing is that I have only read two of the books: ‘Knots and Crosses’ and the short story collection ‘A Good Hanging’. There is a latent desire to to read more of the books, as Ian Rankin is a good writer. But there is a problem: I have already the TV version to watch; I have gotten stuck watching the adaptation. This isn’t a bad thing, as these are good adaptations, but they do have the problem that all adaptations suffer from.
All adaptations are necessary simplifications.
(You can see this by watching the currently airing series Sherlock and comparing with the original short stories and novels. You could probably try the same exercise with Wallander.)
Now there is a good argument to say that what films and TV should draw from as sources of adaptation are short stories which because due to the length of form only cover one idea/plot/theme instead of the multitude that a satisfying novel covers. Sadly short stories are less popular and commercially viable than novels in the present climate. A shame, because most of our cinematic culture is based on reducing more complex works to fit 90 minutes to 120 minutes of screen time.
Of course the best films are made as films first. Just like the best books are made as books first, and the best short stories are written to be short stories.
If you want to see something really interesting watch a game to film translation. Those are weird.